Thursday, September 30, 2010

Suzee's Sausage Cassoulet

I was perusing food blogs today, loving all the "classics" on the project food blog, and I came upon a blog which posted about Pam Anderson's Perfect One-Dish Dinners. That post inspired this post - I haven't read the book, but wanted to mention it because it was so highly recommended.

This delectible dish was conceived when it was reasonably cool out (this morning),  but whew, the oven just heated the apartment to almost unbearable. This would be fabulous in a crock pot too, though not an all day affair.

Here are the ingredients:
1 lb sausage (I used chicken sausage here, but I would definitely change to sweet italian sausage next time)

4 plum tomatoes chopped (or a pint of grape tomatoes - today I only had 2 plum tomatoes, so I added 8 oz of tomato sauce)

1 large onion cut in 1 - 1.5" chunks

4 large garlic cloves, sliced (not too thinly)

3 T olive oil

1.5 T balsamic vinegar - if you have the good stuff, don't hesitate to use it - it's only a small amount and it makes a huge difference!

2 t dried thyme

3 small bay leaves


1 can cannellini beans drained and rinsed

1 10 oz pkg frozen spinach

1/2 C water

Adjust oven rack to lowest position, and heat to 350. Mix all ingredients up to and including the salt and pepper in a dutch oven. Roast about an hour, until the tomatoes break down and make a nice sauce.

Remove from the oven, add the beans, spinach and water, and simmer on the stove top for 5 minutes or until heated through.

Serve in a bowl or on a plate - your choice, but add a light drizzle of fruity olive oil over the top - it makes the beans sing :) Enjoy with crusty bread and a nice Rioja :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mikey's Izmir Kofte

I met my friend Mike back at my first job in NYC. See him above? He's the one in the middle of Damian and Jocy. He's a project manager, and a fabulous story teller. Although I haven't had the pleasure of partaking in his cooking, I hear via the grapevine it's amazing :) When I was working on the Project Food Blog, and before I got axed, I asked Mike for some tips and perhaps a recipe for something Turkish, which is his background. He sent me this recipe, and it sounded so fabulous I needed to make it :)
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground lamb
1 cup large onion, minced as tiny as you can (I actually grated the onion - seemed easier)
1/4 bread crumbs (I use Panko) (me too!)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 bunch italian parsely - minced (you need about a handful, not more)

Mix all of the ingredients lightly in a large bowl.

Make thin eggshaped meatballs (2 inches long, 1/2-3/4 inch wide) - Form a normal meatball, then Roll it in the palm of your hands to get the shape.

2 lbs of russet potatos (sliced into steak fry shapes - 1/2 inch think, 1 inch wide)
8-9 plum tomatoes (quarters, length wise)


8 oz crushed tomato
medium sized shallot minced
4 large cloves of garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano (dried)
1/4 teaspoon basil (dried) - double it if you use fresh
2 tblspoons butter
2 - 3 T olive oil

In a small sauce pan, melt butter and 2-3 tblspoons olive oil on high heat

Add garlic and shallots, cook for 1 minute

add crush tomatoes and seasonings

Let cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.

In a medium to large size square pyrex dish (lasagna tray is a good substitute), place alternating meat, potato, tomato pieces the length of the tray (direction of line not important)

Once you fill the tray out, pour your sauce over it

Cover dish with tin foil

Cook in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes (it's done when the potatoes are tender). (I cooked for 55 minutes, but my potatoes didn't soften - I'll cook the left overs for a while to get them soft)(plus my oven is a million years old)

Can be served with white rice or as is.
The flavor was amazing! Do try this dish - it has a pleasing flavor - I'm looking forward to the leftovers!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Suzee's Maple Apple Crisp

To earn my keep when I went for a quick trip to NH, I made Ann a big 'ole apple crisp! We stopped at a farm stand for some apples and I got a 1/2 peck of courtlands. She was a little short on brown sugar for my regular recipe, so I had to improvise a bit. So, I used brown sugar and white sugar to make up the sugar component of the crumble topping. And, as there was no molasses, I added a few tablespoons of maple syrup to the apples instead of sugar. Oh yeah - that's a keeper!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Feast of San Gennaro

Rick and I made our way down to the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy this past weekend. I was really pleased that despite fabulous weather, it was relatively quiet. I say relatively because last time we went, it was so jammed I was seriously concerned that if anything happened, we would not be able to get off Mott Street. People were shoulder to shoulder and belly to bum that day. This day you could see sunlight between you and the people around you :) We walked from the Canal Street station over to Mott Street and started north searching for a nice place to eat. There are more than 30 restaurants which open sidewalk seating for this event, and I can't say as I've ever had anything but amazing Italian food in Little Italy. So we stopped at the first locale which had open seating, Puglia, and ordered a nice bottle of chianti. We had a few sips and fresh Italian bread appeared - warm and inviting. Not too crusty, and perfectly poofy! The waiter came by, and we ordered dinner. He asked us if we wanted an appetizer, and I asked him how the antipasto was. Very good he said - and seriously, this was the best antipasto I've ever had. There were rolled meats like capicola ham, salami and some other kind of mild ham. Then slices of pepperoni, pieces of fresh mozzerella and imported provalone which was almost the texture of aged cheddar (so amazingly delicious)! This all laid on a bed of fresh lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes and roasted red peppers dressed in a fabulous fruity olive oil and a smooth sweet balsamic vinegar. Sprinkled on top were black olives and pepperoncini and a stuffed cherry pepper. You all know I don't love all this stuff, but all together, in the beautiful weather, with the gorgeous wine, and fresh bread, it was heaven!
Rick's chicken parmesean roll was really good - they used fresh mozzerella, and the marinara sauce was to die for - simply fabulous! I had the lobster ravioli with vodka sauce - it was very good, but that marinara out shown everything during the entrees! Next time I'll be diving into the spaghetti and meatballs!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jackie Warners's Protein Shake

Did you ever watch that show on Bravo - "Workout"? What do you think - do you like Jackie better with short hair or long hair? I say she looked fabulous in short hair, and she just looks contrived in long hair :(

Anyway - here is the protein shake Jackie uses for pre or post work out as she describes in her new show Thintervention.

1 scoop protein powder
1t Glutamine Powder (amino acid which breaches blood brain barior according to Jackie)
1t BCAA Powder (branch chain amino acid)
1T L Carnitine (fat burner)
1/2 T Flax Seed Oil (be sure to shake the oil first)
1 C frozen spinach
1 C frozen berries


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Football Snacks with Apple and Prociutto

I love pork products. I was reading a note from my friend Jenny, and she commented how they ate a lot of pig when she was a kid. I love that. None of that "the other white meat" crap. Just "I like me some pig!" Please - I love bacon, ham, sausage, pepperoni,  and sweet sopressata.

But for some reason, I really struggle with prociutto. Perhaps it's because I'm in the USA and not in Italy? I have yet to taste some that doesn't have a rank flavor and a texture so delicate that it's impossible to keep it in one slice. Am I just buying the wrong brand???

I came upon an idea to have pear with prociutto, and I thought, hmmm... A nice twist away from the usual melon/prociutto combo (which I've tried before, and don't care for).

Well, I didn't have pear, but I did have honey crisp apples, and a sweet onion that needed some cooking love. I used one of those apple slicers - the round one that cores it too, and then I took each slice and cut it in half again for a thinner slice. Then I combined slices of apple wth slices of smoked gouda, and topped that with a little swath of procuitto. I think I would like this better if there was a bit of ham on it instead of the procuitto - something saltier to go with the sweet apple and rich smokey cheese. But if you are a procuitto lover, perhaps this is for you.

Next I caramelized some sweet onion - sautee on low with a little butter and a cover and keep tossing around for a bit. Perhaps for 20 - 30 minutes to really get them rich and sweet. Add a little water if the pan happens to get dry. Don't let them burn.

Then I layered the onion slices on the apple, and wrapped with procuitto. I baked them in a snuggly dish for about 25 minutes on 350. I thought perhaps if the procuitto was crispy, that I'd like it better. The answer was no. This time I was craving a bit of bacon, and perhaps a few crumbles of bleu cheese.
At any rate, there some football snacking ideas here - options, options, options....
What sounds good to you???

Monday, September 20, 2010

Today Is Voting for Challenge 1!

OK - Voting is OPEN for the first challenge for the Project Food Blog!! Please vote for me! My post can be found here.

Voting Opens 6AM Pacific Time September 20th through 6PM Pacific Time September 23rd - Just click that cute little widget with my picture on the left hand side. Thanks for your support!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Project Food Blog - Challenge 1

I'm really pleased to be invited to participate in Project Food Blog with Foodbuzz!  This is a Food Blogging contest - if I win, then you'll be able to read about my adventures in a weekly feature column on Foodbuzz. This initial entry is to introduce myself to a number of new readers, and let you know why my blog might be a fun one to visit regularly over the next year. I hope you will log in to their site and vote for me :)

My cooking inspiration, like many people, comes from my Mom. Whatever my father brings home from fishing or hunting, she cooks. It doesn't matter if she's never cooked it before - she'll ask someone who has, and just does it. Cooking wasn't my Mom's favorite thing by any means. She just doesn't like it. But it's her fearlessness that inspires me. So I almost always subject my family and friends to new experimental recipes - who has time to do a "practice run"? This is life, and I don't want to practice it. I want to live it! And if it falls apart, I’m sure I have something in the pantry. Perhaps crackers with cream cheese and roasted onion jam? Or a bowl of cashews while I whip up some pasta?

I especially enjoy seasonal, local food. I spent most of my life in the seacoast area of NH. My family home is next door to where my grandfather lived, and my aunt and uncle live kitty corner across the street. Both of my grandfathers were farmers, and we always had a huge garden. I never remember tiring of freshly picked corn and summer squash, or tomato sandwiches and cucumbers every day in the summer. I also find delight in fresh seafood! We'd eat steamed little neck clams my father dug by the peck full, and lobsters we’d caught in our traps. And the flounder, cod or pollock whitefishes we'd catch from the ocean. The smelts we caught ice fishing were cleaned and fried up. We’d lift the bones out of the cooked fish by the tail, and eat them like French fries.  All these things were essentially free to us, as we had the adventure of catching or growing them. We ate seasonally because it was affordable.

When I started working, and had a little disposable income, I started hanging out at cooking stores. Have you ever considered that you would just be a better cook if only you had the gadget of the day? I’ve had those thoughts, and made quite a few purchases. Before moving to Manhattan, I lived in Portsmouth NH for a number of years, and this home was a perfect entertaining home! It was a pretty suburban locale, and a far cry from the rural life I’d had as a child. You can see me here with 4 of my friends all converged in the kitchen! Ha - those were the days :)

Here is a shot of our current apartment. See that little doorway in the left of this picture? It's my kitchen. As you can see, I've had to make a few tweaks in how I cook, what tools I use, and how I pull it all together. I now realize that I don’t need the latest gadgets, thankfully, because there is no room for them! My most important tools are a couple of very sharp knives, cutting boards, and a few pans. Now I chuckle every time some friend or family member bemoans the size of their kitchen, and deems it too small.

So my blog is really about enjoying where you are, and finding ideas all around you. Here I am, in the middle of the city that doesn't sleep! Every week there is a new take out menu for some variety of Asian food slipped under our door, and I can't count the mélange of restaurants just outside! There is so much inspiration which help me to create new culinary delights. I write to keep in touch with many family and friends, and to capture fun times we have here. Sharing successful recipes is so easy when it's all posted online. My eyes are seeing this city in a way locals can’t imagine. These new experiences enliven me, and encourage me to create new, healthy, affordable, local, fresh and flavorful dishes. This is why I would make a fabulous Food Blog Star! We'll be cooking, eating, drinking and otherwise, and I hope you will go to the Foodbuzz site and vote for me! Voting Opens 6AM Pacific Time September 20th through 6PM Pacific Time September 23rd - Just click that cute little widget with my picture on the left hand side. Thanks for your support!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I just got back from the 3 Mo Divas show at the legendary Apollo Theater. I printed a few alternate ways to get to the theater at 253 W 125th St on the web site. It worked out well, because I left an hour before the show, and I found just before that they estimated it would take an hour to get there. I was able to see a few ways to shave a few minutes off thankfully, and the subway gods were on my side, so I arrived from Grand Central via the 5 train to 125th Street and walked over to the theater.

The people at the Apollo immediately make you feel welcome, and I was ushered to the intimate theater on the 3rd floor. My seat was in the last row, but at the last moment the house manager invited folks to sit closer, so I ended up in the 4th row. And from this perspective, I could hear each intake of breath, each step on the stage, and each moment when someone started a new song and that gentle or forceful initiation of sound from deep in the gut. This show was designed as one with "living room intimacy", and wow - it you get the chance, you must, must, must go to this show.

3 Mo Divas sing through their show illustrating 10 different types of music. As classically trained vocalists, 2 sopranos and a contralto, it was just simply amazing to see the range of opera to disco, and broadway to gospel done fabulously. The show is so tight, that it is even better in person than on the CD (which I am playing right this very minute!). And just so you know, the CD is pretty damn good.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Quantum Eye : Magic Deceptions

Rick and I took the 6 train downtown on Saturday to the Bleecker Street station. It drops you off less than a block from the Bleecker Street Theater! How fortuitous! We went to The Quantum Eye : Magic Deceptions with Sam Eaton. Neither of us had ever really attended a magic/mentalist show and since the tickets came from my favorite purveyer, we figured we'd give it a try.

It was a very interesting show - about an hour and 15 minutes. Not that I will be running out to the nearest magic shop, or replicating these tricks at home, but something different for 5:00 on a Saturday afternoon. Lots of kids in the audience and the teens especially seemed to like it. There was a group of about 8 girls in front of us who all came together - perhaps to celebrate a 13th birthday?

If you are in town and looking for a family friendly show in the East Village, this could be for you!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Suzee's Tortelini Salad

I don't often make pasta salad. It's one of those white things "they" say you should stay away from. I was thinking about my cousin Ginny's Tortelini salad that she used to make for family picnics, and figured I'd whip it up. I was even going to call it Ginny's salad, but then I started adding things, and before I knew it, I'd lost the simplicity I'd been craving.
I wasn't going to post this one, but surprisingly enough, Rick really liked it. So, here you go.

1 lb frozen tortelini, cooked to package directions
1 European cucumber, diced
1 pint grape tomatos, diced
1 bulb fennel, diced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 T good olive oil
1/4 c light newman's own balsamic vinegrette

Dice all the veggies while the tortelini is cooking. Once you drain the pasta, toss it in the olive oil to prevent it from getting gummy and sticking together while you finish chopping.

Dump all the veggies in the bowl with the pasta and dress with Newman's Own dressing, and toss.

Voila - chopped veggie pasta salad!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday Funday II

For our football snacks today, I wanted some buffalo chicken, but nothing too heavy. I love the buffalo chicken dip I made in South Padre, but even cutting it in 1/2 or a 1/4, just makes too much for the 2 of us.

This something I've made a couple times - Rick ate the whole thing last time (kind of mindlessly) and he was in pain that night from just eating too much. So this time I only put out 1/2 the chicken or so to create some portion control! I found these cute little appetizer picks at Pearl River Mart. I don't know if you can buy them online, but this store is a fun one for dishes and kitchen stuff.
The dish goes a little something like this:

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into largish bite sized pieces. I usually get 6 - 8 bites per breast.
8 oz Frank's Hot Sauce
1 oz light cream cheese
2T Ranch dressing of your choice

Marinate the chicken breast bites in the hot sauce in your oven proof pan. I let it hang out on the counter for about an hour. Pop it into the oven at 350 for about a half hour, so your chicken is completely cooked.

Meanwhile, make your dipping sauce by melting the cream cheese and dressing together in the microwave. Try 30 seconds at 50% and go from there. You want the two ingredients to mix well to make the dip.

And serve! Go Patriots!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Funday!

Today I made brownies and buffalo chicken bites for Footballing snacks:)

The brownies were the recipe I posted here, but I didn't have the ingredients for the icing :\
I got a little creative and did this instead.

2T butter
1 oz square of unsweetened chocolate
1/3 C confectioners sugar
1T half and half

Melt together 2T butter and a 1 ounce square of unsweetened chocolate (such as Baker's). I did this in the microwave at 25% for 1 minute with just the butter. Then I added the chocolate, which was warm and soft to the touch because my pantry is over the fridge, and they melted together easily. If your chocolate isn't soft, then you should chop it up and add it to the butter - it might take another turn in the microwave for another 15 seconds.

Once it's combined and smooth, add the confectioners sugar, vanilla and half and half. Mix until smooth.

Voila - a nice chocolatey option :)  By the way, Rick just pronounced them better than his birthday brownies, so I guess this new icing recipe is keeper!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lunch in Grand Central

I met Rick for lunch at Grand Central this week. I haven't been here since working at the Palace, and it was funny how I saw it with fresh eyes. The windows are so beautiful, allowing a lot of natural light into the main hall. The architecture is amazing - I don't know of any other place like it.

We ate at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse - at the bar, and enjoyed some burgers and fries. We ordered our meat medium rare, and it definitely arrived medium well unfortunately. The draw here of course is being in the great hall, watching the world go by.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Blue Smoke Goodbye Lunch

My project came to an end at the palace this week, and for a second good bye lunch, my boss Andy took me out. We decided to hit Blue Smoke. I haven't been here since Rick and I went and tried a few samplers, but I remembered spying the Banana Cream pie on the way out thinking - I MUST try that next time!
I started with the Yellowfin Tuna Tacos - you know my penchant for fresh fish tacos! I was a little leary about ordering fish at a BBQ place, but I figured, what the heck? The menu didn't say anything about it being raw, and when the waitress mentioned sushi, I was a bit puzzled. When they came, I was shocked to see raw tuna in a small dice loaded into 3 small hard taco shells. I took a taste, and it was nicely flavored with cilantro and something fresh like perhaps tomatillos. One taco was really enough - this is a very substantial appetizer, but it would have been divine had the tuna been grilled.
Andy had the Shrimp Corndogs - very nice presentation. Long wooden skewers topped with fried shimp coated in cornbread. Andy let me have one, and the coating was crisp, light and corny - yeah that sounds corny, but really it was a great way to serve them. There was a light sauce they came with that I liked a lot as well - it had a fresh cilantro lift to it as well.
We moved on to the entrees and we both ordered the pulled pork - and it was really good! You can see Andy's dish above - the pulled pork platter. I had the sandwich - and I would definitely order it again!
And you would think after all that food, we'd be done, but no. That banana cream pie was calling my name, and I ordered it.

 It. Was. To. Die. For.

And it was even better than mine!! I do see a return visit in the future :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Amber's Hurricane

In celebration of Friday's Hurricane (Earl):
1 oz vodka,
1/4 oz grenadine syrup,
1 oz gin,
1 oz light rum,
1/2 oz Bacardi® 151 rum,
1 oz amaretto almond liqueur,
1 oz triple sec,
grapefruit & pineapple juice.

Pour all but the juices into a hurricane glass 3/4 filled with ice. Fill with equal parts of grapefruit & pineapple juice.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Crispo and Comix

I got tickets from Theater Extras to see the writers from SNL, HBO and the Comedy Channel at Comix - we hadn't been to a comedy show in forever, and I was looking forward to it :)

I got a res at Crispo - yes another Italian place :D It looked very rustic and cool, and it was just down the street from the club. The reviews were fabulous, and the house specialty is carbonara!

We got there around 6 as the show was at 7:30. I started with a lemoncello martini rimmed with a sweet sanding sugar, and Rick had the reliable grey goose on the rocks. We sipped and enjoyed the locale - it very much reminded us of Portsmouth with the long thin dining room, the brick walls and hewn beams. Our server was fabulous and personable. In a place that is so casual in appearance, you don't expect this professionalism, and it's such a treat! We started with the Fontina & Prosciutto Crostini - oh the little toasts of heaven! I need to make these oh so much more often!

For dinner there was a spaghetti and meatballs special - this isn't usually on the menu. Rick had been craving just this dish! I ordered the carbonara - it is the house specialty of course. The server tipped me off to expect it to come with a very soft poached egg and cheese which I would mix in at the table. It came as described and I mixed the strands of spaghetti with the cheese and egg, and voila! I see exactly how easily carbonara is made, and damn, it's really not that bad for you! One small egg and a handful of cheese with the bacon and pasta. I always thought they also put in butter and cream. A pleasant surprise! And of course it was magic in my mouth.

We made our way over to Comix, and it's really a nice little club! A word of advice though. Do not trust their servers when they say the strawberry daiquiris are good. They are not! Comics were funny though :)